It’s a Boston Thing; Yankees Winning Streak at 8

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, April 18.

The third Monday of April every year is Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts  and its one-time province Maine.  The holiday in memory of the battles of Lexington and Concord dates back to 1894. As early as 1897 the Boston Marathon was run on Patriots’ day. Starting in 1959 MLB began to schedule a Red Sox home game on purpose on the holiday. Yesterday the Red Sox and Rays carried on the tradition with the Old Town Team taking a 4-3 win over the visitors from St. Pete.   The Red Sox’ knuckleballer Steven Wright took the win with 4 relievers working the final 3 innings. Closer Craig Kimbrel notched the save in his third excellent outing in a row. The home team have won 70 against 52 losses in the holiday game, counting games played elsewhere before 1959. The Sox’ prize rookie Andrew Benintendi led the offense with 3 hits and two runs driven in. With the Rays up 2-0 the Sox put up 3 in the home half of the second inning. As the Sox head to Toronto (where they had a AAA team until 1967) they turn to a AAA call-up Brian Johnson to start on the hill. He doesn’t get an easy assignment against the potent Jays’ bats.

Meantime in the Bronx, Matt Holliday and Aaron Judge homered to lead the Bronx Bombers to a 7-4 win over the White Sox.  The Yanks are 7-0 up to now at Yankee Stadium and overall carry an 8-game winning streak.  Jordan Montgomery, whom local experts said wasn’t ready to pitch in the majors as the season opened, didn’t give a run to the visitors from Chicago until the Yanks had built up a 7-0 lead. To do this they scored 5 in the third inning, the big hit a Holliday 3-run home run.  Two innings later Judge hit a 2-run shot. Holliday’s tremendous clout went some 460 feet and was hit off Derek Holland who the Yankees remember well from his time with the Rangers.  Montgomery picked up his first major league win as he worked into the 7th inning. The Yankees haven’t won 8 in a row in 5 years.  In June of 2012 they put together a 10-game winning streak.

As the season began I was one of the local pundits saying the Yankees were sadly lacking in starting pitching.  None of us considered Montgomery, a 24-year-old lefty from Sumter,  SC. The Yankees took him in round 4 of the 2014 draft after he pitched with the South Carolina Gamecocks for 3 seasons. The Gamecocks were irrelevant in college baseball until former Yankee Bobby Richardson took the helm in 1970.  since then they’ve appeared in the College World Series 11 times. Montgomery was a freshman on the 2012 team which finished second at Omaha. His 2013 team reached the Super Regionals, one round short of another College World Series appearance. Going forward, the Yankees turned to Luis Severino who struck out 11 men last time out.  In that game he picked up his first major league win since the end of 2015.  He was 0–8 as a starter in 2016 with an ERA north of 8.  He faces Chicago’s Miguel Gonzalez.

As we start to settle into the rhythm of another baseball season, there will be no day games played today.  The Yankees’ game mentioned above is tonight’s earliest start at 7 PM. The Red Sox turn to 26-year-old rookie and former first-round draft pick Brian Johnson against Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays.  Johnson pitched in 2 College World Series for the Florida Gators. In a matchup between a Zach and a Zack, the Phillies’ Zach Eflin will hope to escape the fate the Phillies’ pitchers received last week when they faced the Mets.  Zack Wheeler is the Mets’ starter in tonight’s game at Citi Field. The Braves have won their first 4 home games in their new park, all against the Padres.   Tonight they have their toughest home outing to date, against last year’s Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer and the Nationals. The Cardinals hope to rebound from a woeful 3–9 start as they face the Pirates in st. Louis tonight. In the late games, Yu Darvish of the Rangers faces Oakland’s Andrew Triggs. Both pitchers have started well early on. The D-Backs face the Padres in San Diego. If Arizona starter Shelby Miller can’t get well against this lineup you wonder if he ever will. Meantime the Rockies face the Dodgers in Los Angeles and the Marlins play the second game of their series in Seattle.

The Rangers will have to do without their closer Sam Dyson for at least a couple of weeks.  He’s been put on the DL with a bruise to his pitching hand. At the same time the Dodgers had to put starter Rich Hill on the DL with recurring blister issues that limited his effectiveness late in 2016. The Reds are down one of their better starters, Brandon Finnegan.  He’s on the Dl with a strained pitching shoulder.

I rarely cover minor league games in this space, if for no other reason than the difficulty of getting information about even the most compelling minor league game.  Only a handful are available on demand, and those few aren’t free.  But thanks to Adam Giardino who broadcasts for the Eastern League’s Trenton Thunder I got a tip to check up on last night’s game between Harrisburg and Hartford.  The Harrisburg Senators are the AA affiliate of the Washington Nationals while Hartford is the Rockies’ AA club. Last year, Hartford made baseball  news for all the wrong reasons.  Their park was left unfinished following a squabble over money, and the team had to play all 140 scheduled games on the road.  This year, Dunkin Donuts Park is open for business.  There were few donuts put up on the board in last night’s 16-14 win in 13 innings by the visitors from Harrisburg. The Senators’ Andrew Stevenson, considered the Nats’ 5th-best prospect notched 5 hits in 7 trips. He put up a double, 3 RBIs and scored 4 runs. Meantime, the Yardgoats’ Ryan McMahon matched Stevenson hit for hit, also going 5 for 7 with 6 RBIs. He hit a home run, a double and 3 singles. For the Senators, Stevenson was the leadoff hitter.  Right behind him in the batting order came Alec Keller who tallied 4 hits including 2 doubles, a home run and 4 RBIs. Harrisburg seemed to be beaten, down 8-4 after 7 innings. The game was tied at 12 through the regulation 9 innings.  Harrisburg had put 7 on the board in their half of the 8th and one more in the visiting 9th to lead 12-8.  Incredibly Hartford hadn’t scored until the 5th.  They put up 2 in that frame, then one, then 5 in the 7th.  The home team tied the  score with 4 in the 9th, powered by a McMahon blast to the right field porch.   The game was tied at 14 after each team put up 2 in the 12th. After nearly 6  hours on the field Harrisburg scored a pair in the 13th and the Goats ran out of steam.


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